This guest blog post is provided by Business Women in International Trade (BWIT), a program of the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) which supports Canadian women entrepreneurs as they pursue opportunities in international markets.

Certification enables women-owned businesses that are export ready to benefit from direct access to supplier diversity and procurement executives at hundreds of multi-national corporations. Working with the BWIT Team — the only national program that provides targeted products and services to help women entrepreneurs internationalize — you can learn how to solidify these contracts as well as to access mentoring opportunities, education and capacity development, and connect with other business women.

What is Certification?

Certification is for businesses that are at least 1) 51% owned by one or more women, 2) managed by a female principal executive or 3) controlled or operated by women in key business making decisions — such as dealing with the company's finances, operations, personnel or strategy.

Canadian Certifiers

WBE Canada and WEConnect International in Canada are the two organizations in Canada that certify women-owned businesses. Two other Canadian certifiers are the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) and the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC).

Certification Benefits Women-Owned Businesses

Certification allows business women to increase visibility and connect to opportunities that otherwise may not be available to them — such as access to key supplier diversity and procurement executives. Approximately 97% of Fortune 500 companies have a supplier diversity program where they attribute a percentage of their annual spending to sourcing from under-represented diverse suppliers (including women-owned businesses). With these contracts available to diverse suppliers, it provides an invaluable opportunity for women to grow and internationalize their business. Some examples of companies with supplier diversity programs include:

  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • Coca-Cola
  • Hallmark
  • Microsoft
  • Procter & Gamble
  • IBM
  • ExxonMobil
  • Merck
  • Mastercard
  • Capital One
  • HP
  • Starbucks
  • The Home Depot
  • Telus
  • Sodexo
  • AT&T
  • Ernst & Young

How the Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program can help

In operation for almost 20 years, BWIT has the tools, knowledge and vast network to help you scale your business and successfully internationalize. Through our link with the Trade Commissioner Service in 161 offices worldwide, as well as our partnership with well-connected Canadian certifiers and business women's associations across Canada, we can connect you to key contacts to help you become a certified women-owned business. If you are already certified, BWIT can help facilitate connections from e-introductions to one-on-one business matchmaking meetings with high-level corporation representatives at annual women-focused trade missions including WBENC's National Conference and Business Fair.

Please note that although certification is something that is strongly encouraged, it is not a requirement in order to receive BWIT's products and services.

To learn more about the certification process, connect with the BWIT team and visit our website.